Dr. Han, your Eminence, Bishop Kruse, Sir John and Lady Templeton. Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The Templeton Foundation has taken up a task which when you think of it, is really to try one thing to which we have been dedicated in the past, namely, that missionary task to carry religion again out of the churches, out of the different organisations and to humanity at large and this endeavour is today of greater necessity than ever before.
Last week a colleague of mine, a member of the French Academy, was in Moscow. He got a taxi which is something not normal in Moscow and he was impressed by the driver who had at his side a Russian newspaper. The Russian newspaper was of the Russian Monarchist Party and my colleague asked him “Well what do you believe in this newspaper, do you believe that the Tzar is coming back? Whereupon the driver answered him “Whether the Tzar comes back I don’t know but one thing is certain God is coming back.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the great event in the midst of which we live. The most recent opinion poll in Russia has shown that after more than seventy years of atheist oppression and of eradication of faith there is still 48% of the total Russian population which declare themselves to be believers, and I had recently the opportunity to talk with a member of the Russian clergy, of the one that is really inside of the country, who told me that his greatest problem was to find time because so many people were asking to be baptised to permit them to catch up for what had been deprived them for decades.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this shows us what an enormous turning point we find ourselves at. This turning point is much greater than just the events of the moment of the collapse of the kingdom of atheism. It is a fact that when you look at the large waves of history you will find that the victory of materialism, began some centuries ago when suddenly the unitarian picture of the world disappeared and natural sciences began to turn against religion as the centre of everything and wanted to admit only what they could touch and measure. This idea spread to philosophy, to the rule of law. The idea of the absolute authority of kings was an unchristian idea and the whole matter that law would be ruling disappeared at the moment when the idea of natural law was being abandoned because natural law is on condition that the Creator exists. Ladies and Gentlemen, in the Nineteen Century we had a real period of dominant materialism, at least here in Europe. I just want to note that when the great Louis Pasteur publicly declared that he as a believer and a practising believer, he was one of the very few who could dare to say that because anyone lesser than Louis Pasteur would have been simply laughed away from his position. He couldn’t have carried on any more because at that time all the scientists and intellectuals said that they should no longer speak of God and of religion. Incidentally when you look at the great lines of history you will find that we had a turning point and it is indeed interesting that it coincided exactly with the end of the last century. It came in 1899 when Max Planck with his quantum theory began to open up in that new way when the natural sciences themselves were the first to destroy the artificial wall which had been built up between our world and the transcendental world. So from that moment on you could see the same kind of trend towards faith which gradually step by step is going to change the face of this world. The new natural sciences postulate existence of God. But that means that science is returning to God. The elite, and that includes in the atheistic countries, believes again in the Almighty because they can’t explain the world without the Almighty, and we have seen it last week when NASA in the United States gloriously declared that they had found a way in which the universe was created. But when you look at it to the last detail the whole discovery cost $20bn which in my humble opinion were wasted because, it just postponed the whole problem because material forces cannot create themselves – there must be a Creator behind it and that is the one thing that has changed this basic trend of knowledge of the elite of science in our world. We are on the threshold of a new world and it was rightly said when Moreau the great poet, said the Twenty-first Century will be either a century of faith or it won’t exist any more.
In order to achieve this trend God needs us, God needs man because He has in His act of creation given man the tremendous privilege to determine his own destiny. God respects us and consequently it is up to us to make His work known. It is exactly this that the Templeton Foundation has honoured today because as Christ said that we should take the wealth of mamon in order to achieve the aims of God. This is exactly what is taking place under our eyes and especially the honouring of the Rev. Dr Chik Kyung Han is showing to us what the real way for our future is. First of all the Rev. Han comes from a country which has suffered more, in my opinion, than any other country has suffered; a country where martydom has almost become a natural thing; a country where a Korean nation has given itself to God because it suffered so much for the cause of God against all sorts of forms of persecution.
The laureate of the Templeton Foundation is the best proof that if one has confidence in God success is certain to come because when we read the history of Rev Han we shall see that he tried time and again the impossible, things that normal calculations would say impossible to carry out. He succeeded in a poverty ridden country and he carried the message of God all through his country and today from his country into our world. I would say that the life of the Rev Han is for us the greatest message of hope that we can get confidence in the future. There are many people today in this world who despite our tremendous wealth and our great achievements are deeply pessimistic. There was scarcely a period where pessimism was more widespread and there are many people who say we don’t know where we are going. Well thank God we can see where we have to go but it of us the believers to carry this message in order to give others also that feeling which must inhabit us, namely the feeling that a believer cannot lose because we are on the side of the Creator. It is our task to carry the message of the Creator like the Rev Han does so admirably in his own country. But in order to do that we have to dare to speak and to speak more openly. I go fairly often in the Islamic countries and I always, it is an unchristian feeling, am filled with envy when I see Islamic politicians beginning their speech with the words “In the name of God the Almighty be merciful.” Nobody would dare to begin a speech otherwise.
I always have to think that if only our political leaders would dare to speak more of God, the whole world would be a better world and it is this Templeton Foundation, it is persons like Dr Han who dares to speak publicly of God and we should take this example speaking of God carrying out His message, His promise, and it’s a certainty that those who believe cannot lose. I thank you.